Nate Diaz wants to fight Tyron Woodley and Tyron Woodley wants to fight Nate Diaz. The UFC reportedly seems to be open to the idea of the fight, though UFC president Dana White has shot the rumors down. But top welterweight contenders Rafael dos Anjos and Colby Covington aren’t having any of it. Both men are due for title shots against Woodley and that’s the primary reason Diaz vs. Woodley isn’t the fight to make right now.
The UFC is supposed to be the pinnacle of this great sport we love. Fighters work their entire careers to get a chance to fight in the Octagon and work their way up to title shots. After all, champions get paid more money. For RDA and Covington, both men are on impressive win streaks right now over quality competition, and either would be deserving of a title shot.
RDA just destroyed Robbie Lawler and Covington just dominated Demian Maia, two of the top contenders in the division. Of the two, RDA has the upper leg at the moment, but the argument that Covington should be next to fight for the belt is valid. There is no real reason that Diaz should leap over either to fight Woodley for the belt.
Nate Diaz has had numerous runs at welterweight in the UFC and on most occasions has been overmatched in those fights. The first time he went up to welterweight, he finished gatekeepers Rory Markham and Marcus Davis before being dominated by Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald. He then immediately went down to lightweight, but returned to welterweight after filling in for the injured RDA to fight Conor McGregor on short notice. Diaz finished McGregor in the first fight between the two, becoming a star in the process. Then he lost a close fight in the rematch, and that fight was in August 2016. Diaz hasn’t fought since.
So on paper Diaz is 3-3 as a welterweight in the UFC and is coming off of a loss to a natural lightweight in McGregor. The UFC has poked at the integrity of the sport in the past by giving fighters title shots coming off of a loss, like Nate’s brother Nick when he fought Georges St-Pierre, but generally that’s been due to a lack of other viable title contenders. Right now, the UFC has two very legitimate title contenders in RDA and Covington, and somehow they might be passed over in favor of Diaz.
Clearly, Woodley thinks Diaz is going to draw more than his other possible opponents and has been trying hard to get the UFC to bite on booking the fight. But while Diaz may be labelled a star considering he co-headlined two massive fights against McGregor, he’s still largely unproven as a pay-per-view and box draw on his own. Before McGregor, Diaz had fought in six-straight TV cards. We still don’t know if he can draw PPV numbers on his own, and if the UFC books the fight against Woodley, it’s because they think Diaz can draw more buyers than RDA or Covington.
While I think Diaz vs. Woodley might do slightly higher based on the Diaz name value, I still think all three fights do mostly average numbers. The champion, Woodley, isn’t really a draw himself. It’s not worth delaying the integrity of the sport just to do a few extra buys.
Nate Diaz vs. Tyron Woodley is a fun fight and if Diaz can get a few big wins at welterweight I’d be interested in watching it down the road, but as of right now this fight doesn’t make sense. In a perfect world, Woodley should be fighting RDA, Covington should be next, and Diaz should be fighting someone like Jorge Masvidal or even Robbie Lawler. If he can beat one of those guys, then we can talk about a title shot.
Those are the matchups I would make if I were the matchmakers, since they’re all great fights and keep the integrity of the sport alive. Dana White is on the record saying the promotion is looking to book Woodley vs. RDA, but until that’s a done deal the Woodley vs. Diaz matchup is still going to be talked about. We’ll hopefully find out soon what the UFC has up its sleeve.
Who should Woodley fight next: Diaz, RDA, or Covington? Leave a comment below with your response.